The Insurance Fraud Bureau (IFB), City of London Police's Insurance Fraud Enforcement Department (IFED), and several insurers have issued a warning to London road users regarding a new form of "crash for cash" scam.
The fraud involves mopeds being ridden towards oncoming traffic deliberately and creating accidents to make fraudulent insurance claims.
Investigations show that around 2,250 people have fallen victim to this scam in London over the past two years, with many of the suspected fraudsters believed to be local couriers.
The scammers, usually posing as delivery drivers, are targeting drivers in high-income areas like Islington, Camden, and Kensington and Chelsea. Due to low public awareness of this type of fraud, there may be thousands more victims unknowingly affected.
Detective Chief Inspector Tom Hill, at City of London Police's IFED, said: “We urge road users to learn the tell-tale signs that can precede these collisions, as knowing them can help protect you from falling victim. If you suspect you have been targeted, report it to Cheatline.”
Matthew Stevens, Anti-Fraud Director at Hastings Direct, said: “This type of fraud not only has a negative impact on insurance premiums, it is also very dangerous. It is a clear demonstration that these criminals have no regard for public safety and no concern for innocent and unsuspecting road users, who are often left traumatised following these incidents."
Mark Allen, Assistant Director of Fraud and Financial Services at Association of British Insurers. commented: “Staged crash for cash scams are a dangerous menace on our roads. Often highly organised, and constantly looking for new targets to exploit, these criminals put lives at risk."
How do I know if I’ve been targeted for this particular scam?
Unlike traditional scenarios, where fraudsters slam on their brakes to force the car behind to collide with them, the new scam sees perpetrators park in side roads or parking spaces to take more defensive positions.
The fraudster then accelerates their moped towards the victim causing a collision, which is often followed by him throwing his two-wheeler to the ground and dropping to the floor to feign injury. A potential witness or accomplice may be involved in some cases to support the fraudster's claim, and rumours suggest that vans are sometimes used to obscure the victim's view before the incident.
Multiple incidents have already been reported across London, particularly in areas such as Barnet, Brent, Camden, Enfield, Haringey and Hackney, Islington, and Kensington and Chelsea. Drivers are advised to remain alert to the presence of mopeds or other vehicles left stationary or driving conspicuously in public roads.
This kind of fraud has become the IFB's largest-ever investigation after nearly every motor insurer in the country was targeted with a total of £27m in false claims.